Visiting the university

It has been quite a while since I was inside UP. Maybe this is something that Harry Potter feels everytime he’s at Hogwarts (or Lord Voldemort for that matter), but this place always feels like home to me.

It was a fine Saturday morning that I had to wake up earlier than usual. I informed Dr Carlos that I would be dropping by her class in the morning to get my recommendation letter. Yes, I will be going back to school next semester. However, she was down with the flu and I had to go to her place to get it. It was always a pleasure talking to her and I think a major part of my inquisitiveness can be attributed to her. There are things that some teachers say that just stick to you and I can still recall several of things she had uttered in class way back from 2009. Her drive, candor and, most especially, her optimism of the country.

The Sunken Garden viewed from the Peace Rock

The Sunken Garden viewed from the Peace Rock and a UP Ikot

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Preparing for a week in Mindanao!

 

Say hello to a new day! I have brought along almost all shortsleeves polo with me but I don’t remember wearing one since bringing them. As it is almost raining the whole week, the prospect of sweating profusely has significantly reduced. Another colorblind moment, though, as I thought this was a white polo with gray stripes, but apparently, it was pink in some other color. Oh well. I would never know about it not until I commented that Mon and I were both wearing white polos and looked like high school students. I was evidently wrong.A shirt I thought as white, black skinny pants, Red Wing  2913 boots

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Out to Taal Lake! (Club Balai Isabel)

It was our first night to sleep in our apartment after having bought the sofa bed last Tuesday. As we had to be at the meeting place by 6:30 AM, we woke up at quarter to six because we still had to fix the clothes we had to bring. I had no difficulty sleeping in our new apartment, and I normally have a hard time sleeping in an unfamiliar place. I consider that as a good sign, then.

A lot of people who registered and agreed to attend bailed out at the last minute and I was really happy to hear that. It means less people to deal with (i.e. the unbearable noise), and I was looking forward to a relaxing day. Plus, as there were about 50 absentees, it meant that we had more chances of winning cool prizes from the raffle. Again, I do not have the biggest luck in games of luck, but as there were 100 plus prizes for less than a hundred participants, I highly doubt I wouldn’t be picked even once!

Entrance-slash-gate of Club Balai IsabelAfter an uneventful hour and a half ride (though it was fun because I was with my friends/officemates with me, having a laugh over the silliest things), we finally arrived in Club Balai Isabel, a resort located at the edge of Taal Lake in Talisay Batangas. The last time I was near the waters was in 2004 (February 15, 2004, to be exact) during a field trip for our Geology 1 class. And as far as I can remember, it was my first ever banca ride and it was a really scary experience, seeing the kelp (or whatever you call them) swaying in the dark waters below. Rumor has it that thatShake, Rattle and Roll” film, with the infamous undin, was shot in Taal Lake. I took that fact to heart, so even if I am a capable swimmer, I was (or am) still scared of the lake.

The famous 'façade' of Taal Volcano - Binintiang Malaki

A floating house in Taal Lake

That was the time I became aware that the famous view of Taal Volcano was not the real crater. “Binintian Malaki” and its dormant crater is the face of Taal, but the real crater was located somewhere else in the near middle of the Crater Island. I actually got to go inside the real crater and we were even allowed to bathe inside. Of course, I did not but I remember a courageous lady from another section, who willingly took the plunge in her cut-out swimsuit (to the delight of the boys in the group). It was nevertheless nice to be back in a familiar place after almost a decade.

Nice native details on the ceiling

With my officemates!

Very nice shot of Mon and I by Faye

On a different note, it has been quite a while since Mon and I joined a team outing. The last time was unfortunate because Mon has acquired amoebiasis from Clearwater in Clark, Pampanga and we vowed to never join any of the future outings. But as we were in desperate need of kitchen and household appliances for our new apartment, we were eager to join so that we no longer have to buy some of them. LOL Again, given that there were far fewer people who attended, the succeeding events were a breeze, with only two games to boot. A far cry from the HOURS of games conducted before. Sporadic raffles in between eventually brought us three things: an oven toaster, a rice cooker and a digital camera! It was my first time to win a raffle!

And we won a rice cooker, an oven toaster and a digital camera

Club Balai Isabel was a nice place, but we had high hopes with the food because when we were still in Makati earleir, Mon and I spoked with a random guy in the elevator, commending thir food and service. So imagine that come lunch time, the roast beef was like rubber, the pork still had a lot of hair on the skin, and the soup was a macaroni short of being a macaroni soup. It was really unappetizing and it did not help that when we were about to be served snacks at around 3:00 PM, we saw that the delivery truck had accidentally dropped the trays of sandwiches on the lawn. I did not bother eating a sandwich, because it was a station away from being a soil-wich (corny, LOL).

However, make no mistake because the environment itself was beautiful. There were a lot of fruit-bearing trees, but the signboards were very explicit in warning us with bold “NO PICKING OF FRUITS”. What do they dowith them? We had no idea because the ground was littered with overripe fruits. What a pity. =(

The biggest pool in Club Balai Isabel

Somebody's irritated =D

Yes, I had to sit on the grass

As we were given a lot of free time to roam around the area, we had to visit the lakeside and see the bigger pool. There were few people swimming but I assume it would have been full if only the other company were done with their teambuilding activities. It was difficult to get a closer shot of the ‘volcano’ because my camera was not skilled enough, all of us had a great time taking pictures, particularly jump shots under the sun.

Slayin' them all with my cheerleader jump!

 

I still have it, I guess LOL

 

We also had a dip in the smaller but nearest pool to us, and I think we were inside for more than an hour. An officemate unfortunately had a mishap as she stopped swimming in the middle of the pool, not knowing that it was the deeper part. It was scary and funny at the same time because Mon and I had to rush and help her get out of the water. I knew that she would drag me in the matter, had I tried swimming to get her, so I just went below her and walked her to the gutter.

 

Synchronized swimming LOL

 

Before leaving, somebody made us fill papers for a raffle, and it was for a free stay in their place for some days and nights. As it was a raflle, I definitely have a small chance. It was a free trip so I should not be complaining, but the food was really a letdown. I even heard that they are charging about a thousand pesos for a sinigang dish in the executive restaurant, yikes! We also highly doubt that they have prepared food enough for about a hundred people. If none were absent and backed out at the last minute, alas, we needed a miracle to have enough food for all os us. =D

Going home from Club Balai Isabel

*(Some photos were grabbed from Faye and Dale) =D

 

A day before graduation

It’s my third consecutive day of waking up around 8:00 AM because of important tasks that needed to be done. We went back to UPLB the other day for Lot’s enrollment, and I had my 10:00 AM appointment with the NGO yesterday because I finally signed the contract for the new position I will assume starting June 3. For today, I had to pick up the tickets for both the college and university graduation happening this weekend, and that meant dropping by AS before lunchtime.

Tickets for both the college and university graduation

When I first called AS 101 for information about the recognition rites, I had a hard time understanding the person who was in charge of information to answer those who are inquiring. Let’s just say that I finally met him in person, and he was not as pleasant as he sounded on the phone. In my first encounter with him in that telephone call, we had a small misunderstanding over the nomenclature of AS and Palma Hall. I kept on saying AS and he kept on correcting me with Palma Hall, so imagine the irony when you see a giant “AS 101” plastered by the College Secretary’s entrance — his office. Anyway, I have never been inside AS 101 during my whole stay in graduate school because I dealt with my academic matters in the Office of the Graduate Program. So when I asked about the tickets for both ceremonies, I knew right away that I was dealing with the same person because he was honestly snarky and it did not help that he was incomprehensible (i.e. he eats his words). I normally got no problem with that, but it’s just plain wrong to put people who are not eloquent in answering questions, without a hint of condescension, in the front desk or whatever. Somebody needs a crash course in communicating effectively.

The Academic Oval - UP Diliman

Anyway, I got my tickets in no time from the extremely busy BUT gracious person who was in charge of giving out the tickets. I was so happy to leave the same room with that staff with the bad attitude. Mind you, he changed his tune when he found out in that telephone call that I was a graduate student and not an undegrad. Maybe I should feel good that he was cranky with me because I looked like an undergrad. So after AS, I realized that I still have a lot of time to go to the University Registrar and FINALLY claim my clearance. It was due for collection since January, but I did not know why it took me so long to claim it. It was a clear and sunny day, and even if the sun was way up high, I finally decided on walking to Quezon Hall and take a couple of pictures of the Sablay-clad Oble and the sunflowers in full bloom along University Avenue.

I have NEVER read the inscription by the foot of the Oblation ... wow, a decade after, really

Cheery sunflowers along University Avenue - UP Diliman, Graduation 2013

Interestingly, since entering UP Diliman exactly a decade ago, I have never once taken a picture of me with the sunflowers, or even stood near them within 10 feet! What have I been doing all those nine summers, I do not know, and I even did not bother going approaching them in my university graduation in 2007. Well, the sun was no joke and I was debating whether I should really take pictures given I was all by myself. I eventually crossed the road going to the sidewalk of University Avenue, walked the length going to the checkpoint, while sneakily looked for the perfect spot where the exiting vehicles would not see me. LOL It was strategically placed between two large bushes and the flowers in the area were not bad either.

FAIL - the camera was on zoom

I had tried two batches of “self-portrait”. The first one was hilarious that I won’t bother posting the best shot because there was none, while the other yielded accepted results, only that I forgot to zoom it out after the macro shots before it. Hello sweat and pores! I was a tourist in my own university, and it gave me a good laugh as I internally ridiculed how pathetic I was. I then waited for the jeepney going to MRT in the checkpoint, and the students who were inside were quizzically looking at me because I was drenched with sweat. They saw me walking the length of the sidewalk and I’ll bet my graduate degree that they might have suspected that I had a field day with the sunflowers. LOL

Arriving an hour after in Glorietta, I had to wait for Mon to arrive so that he can accompany me in looking for a barong tagalog to use for two days. The last barong I bought was from 2007 and I remember buying it around Php 1000 and it was not the best one out there. So I swore to myself that the next barong for my graduation will be far from the other one. A six-year interval, then, might be a long time because my jaw dropped upon seeing the prices of the barong tagalog for sale in Landmark Makati. The cheapest was at Php 3,000, while I almost fainted when I saw the Php 18,000 one. But anyway, the fabrics used in the production of these are produced locally, and the embroidery was so painstakingly done, that you won’t even notice the difference the difference in beauty between the low-end to high-end.

Good thing I did not choose the one to the left

Of course, I chose one of the cheaper ones! =D It was made from jusi as piña-made ones commanded a higher price. I had my eyes on one with the elaborately-detailed collar, but unfortunately, the smallest size available for that style (i.e. medium) did not fit me properly. I’m happy to hear, though, that I need a small-sized barong tagalog. =D However, it meant that my choices were few and good luck tomorrow as I expect a minimum of two to three people wearing the same barong tagalog as mine! I’m just praying that they should be seated at least a row away from me!

Trying on a couple of barong tagalog for the graduation

Tomorrow, our college graduation will be at 8:00 AM but we should be there by 7:00 AM for the assembly. It was really early but I would not be surprised if another college/institute booked the University Theater ahead of us, thus ending up with the earliest schedule. My female classmates were really worried because salons and beauty parlors do not normally open that early in the morning. I laughed at first, then realized that I also needed a haircut. What goes around, comes around, and the strict schedule of the last three days prevented me from having one. Well, at least I’m finally graduating! =D